Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Today's News: Updates

Update from Ukraine: 
Some interesting news today: I was reminded of a BBC report I heard early in the war, in March, interviewing a Canadian soldier 
who had been involved in training Ukraine troops since 2015, and she talked about them with such respect for how brave and accomplished they were. 
In this story today, David Pugliese at PostMedia News reports: 
...a few dozen commandos from NATO countries, including Britain, France, Canada and Lithuania, had been working inside Ukraine. The United States withdrew its own 150 military instructors before the war began in February. 
But the New York Times, citing three U.S. officials, reported that special forces from the NATO countries either remained or had gone in and out of Ukraine since then, training and advising Ukrainian troops and providing an on-the-ground conduit for weapons and other aid. 
U.S. special forces have also established a coalition planning cell in Germany to co-ordinate military assistance to Ukrainian commandos and other Ukrainian troops, the New York Times reported. The cell, which has grown to 20 nations, is modelled after a similar structure the U.S. and its NATO allies used in Afghanistan. U.S. Army Secretary Christine E. Wormuth has confirmed the cell provides intelligence and co-ordination for the flow of NATO weapons into Ukraine, allowing such convoys to avoid Russian attacks. 
In other news from Ukraine, Russia is again trying to frighten people by deliberately bombing 
civilians. This is a war crime:
Elsewhere, Russia is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory -- while Russia is advancing slowly 
in the Donbas, its progress is minor and Russia is incurring huge costs on their military: Several weeks ago, Markos at Daily Kos described the Russian way of "fighting" wars now: blowing enemy towns to smithereens, then advancing their tanks across the rubble, and calling it a victory. 
But they have conquered nothing except a pile of blasted rocks. 

Monday, June 27, 2022

Today's News: Pro-Choice Underground

Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman writes: 
It is no exaggeration to say that the Dobbs decision, written by Justice Samuel Alito and joined by four other conservatives, is an act of institutional suicide for the Supreme Court. 
The legitimacy of the modern court depends on its capacity to protect the vulnerable by limiting how the majority can infringe on basic rights to liberty and equality. 
The Dobbs majority not only takes the court out of that business. It holds that the court should never have expanded the protection of liberty and equality in the first place.
 ...State legislatures can and will now pass laws that violate or eliminate those rights. The lower courts will have to adjudicate them. Ultimately the Supreme Court will have to weigh in again. 
The reason all this will happen is that the court didn’t just overturn Roe. By overturning Casey, it called into question the core idea that the justices follow precedent. Casey stood for the idea that the court would uphold its past decisions absent a major, transformative reason to do so. Under Casey, lower courts would leave precedent in place. 
That norm is now gone. It’s open season on fundamental rights. 
 ...the modern Constitution will never be the same. Neither will the Supreme Court. 
Dobbs will go down as one of the worst decisions in the court’s history. Dobbs reverses rights on which the whole country has relied for half a century. The court has never done that before. The consequences will be disastrous — and far-reaching. 
And it is getting very weird, very fast. 
America now has a new cottage industry, a kind of pro-choice underground sub-culture now developing quickly, with the goal of alerting women whether states have abortion access, and helping women in need to travel to the states that do, or to Canada. 
Here is advice on how to secretly find and book abortions using library computers so as to not leave any digital breadcrumbs for police agents to find. And here's how to wipe a phone:

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Palate cleansers

What an awful couple of days, and its not going to get any better next week. 
SCOTUS still has more cases to announce (including another gun case). 
And Canadians are wondering why Pierre Poilievre hasn't said anything yet about abortion, but is talking about kicking MPs out of caucus for the crime of Insufficient Loyalty to Dear Leader
And the FreeDumb Convoy now says Ottawa police told them they can park their trucks wherever they want to. 
Yeah, just great news from all over. 
So here are some palate cleansers, just for tonight - we'll get back to politics soon enough. 

 First, this great photo from NASA - it is described as "perhaps the most-terrifying space photograph to date" and it shows Space Shuttle astronaut Bruce McCandless floating untethered, using his Manned Maneuvering Unit to keep him alive, the first person in history to do this. 

Here's some funny stuff:

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Today's News: The War on Women

David Horsey Seattle Times https://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/supreme-court-draws-a-red-line-between-states-on-abortion/


The loss of abortion rights in the United States is the news of the day -- the US Supreme Court has overturned Roe V Wade, redefining women's rights and allowing states to stop women from getting abortions.  
After deciding 40 years ago to make abortion into a divisive partisan issue, Republicans have finally caught the car. 
Republican state legislatures and governors spent years pandering to their pro-life voters by passing rigid, cruel but meaningless laws criminalizing abortion -- they thought draconian laws didn't really matter because Roe V Wade would never be overturned anyway so they would never have to try to enforce them. 
Meanwhile, the American Pro-Life Taliban were entranced by their hazy water-coloured memories of how marvelous America used to be, back in the good ol' days before Roe V Wade -- back when men were men and women were women and "decent" women were ashamed to get pregnant "out of wedlock" and the bad girls give birth secretly in maternity homes thus ensuring a "domestic supply of infants" for adoption while the girls crept home in shame. 
Yeah, good times....
So here we are -- today, all of a sudden, Roe V Wade is overturned. 
And all those awful laws criminalizing abortion are now in effect.  So criminalizing abortion has created a "War on Women" just as criminalizing marijuana created a "war on drugs" 70 years ago. 
But society has changed -- women aren't ashamed of having sex any more, or of getting pregnant, and for 50 years abortion has been just another medical procedure that sometimes women needed. Society no longer views pregnancy as something embarrassing. 
But by criminalizing abortion, these stupid awful laws have criminalized everyone associated with abortion - the teenagers and the young couples and the entropic pregnancies and the families, the doctors and nurses and pharmacists and social workers, even the taxi drivers. They're all supposed to be going to jail now.
That'll show 'em who's boss! 
Folks, its just not going to work. 
The New Yorker has a major article today on this:
Jia Tolentino writes: 
...   The future that we now inhabit will not resemble the past before Roe, when women sought out illegal abortions and not infrequently found death. The principal danger now lies elsewhere, and arguably reaches further. 
We have entered an era not of unsafe abortion but of widespread state surveillance and criminalization—of pregnant women, certainly, but also of doctors and pharmacists and clinic staffers and volunteers and friends and family members, of anyone who comes into meaningful contact with a pregnancy that does not end in a healthy birth. 
Those who argue that this decision won’t actually change things much—an instinct you’ll find on both sides of the political divide—are blind to the ways in which state-level anti-abortion crusades have already turned pregnancy into punishment, and the ways in which the situation is poised to become much worse.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Today's News: Pushing back

FreeDumb Convoy:
First, here's some actual news from the real world - Covid vaccines saved 20 million lives: Next, we are finally seeing some push-back to that awful meeting held yesterday that Conservative MPs held on Parliament Hill: In this Star column, Arthur writes: 
These are neither serious nor reasonable people. And while they are free to express themselves, they should not be welcomed within what should be accepted standards of shared politics, or reality.
Andrew Coyne says: From the NDP: Here's an interesting development -- it appears Ottawa citizens are again preparing to defend their city: Never forget the Battle of Billings Bridge! Finally, check out the replies to this tweet: #FreeDumbConvoy gets the most votes but here are some more suggestions from the comments: 
#Clownvoy 
#ChristofascistCrusades 
#Omicronvoy 
#PlagueInc 
#IvermectinInsurrection 
#TaliBanjo 
#Yeehawdists 
#trucklodytes 
#TreasonTruckers 
#RedneckTaliban 
#VictimhoodExpress 
#TonkaTantrum

 Finally, this one:

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Today's News: FreeDumb all the way!

Its hard to even think about how crazy the FreeDumb Convoy is getting, much less write about it.
Justin Ling has a major article today in Vice that describes a leaked intelligence report about the anti-vax nutjobs who intend to try to overthrow the Canadian government, or at least take over Ottawa this summer. 
Ling's article is about a report from the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre which describes "ideologically motivated violent extremism (IMVE)" and details some of their nutty beliefs - that Covid never actually existed, that "the elites" have been releasing “biological weapons”, that the culprits are “not just the government of Canada…which is controlled by a much higher element, be it the World Economic Forum, or if you want to go right up to the Pope".  Self-proclaimed Convoy leaders plan to deputise themselves and others as “constitutional sheriffs” to arrest “Justin Trudeau and all the premiers and all the health ministers.” 
These are the guys that Conservative politicians keep telling Trudeau to meet with. 
Yeah, sure.  Great plan, that...
And Conservative politicians actually did meet today with several of the Convoy yahoos. So these are the people that Conservative MPs invited into our Canadian Parliament and met with, just as though they were normal?
And checking Canadian media reaction, you would have had the impression these were ordinary concerned citizens, too -- CTV called them "freedom movement" figures while CBC dutifully reported the Conservative talking point describing them as "Freedom Convoy organizers" who are "just average citizens that have concerns"
No editorials, no scolding columns, no blasts of outrage against the Conservatives for greeting these guys. 
At this rate, we're going to need that Emergencies Act again this summer:

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Today's News: Investigations all over

https://twitter.com/raincoaster/status/1539420987606896640?s=20&t=ipsuJDqv6VDY778aQXI7cw
There are three important investigations going on right now -- the Mass Casualty Commission (AKA the Portapique massacre) in Nova Scotia, the Jan 6 Committee hearings in Washington, and the Uvalde massacre investigations in Texas. 
They all had significant events happening today. 

Mass Casualty Commission (Portapique massacre): 
The Nova Scotia RCMP have testified repeatedly at these hearings and though I haven't reviewed all the testimony I can't remember reading of a single time when they accepted responsibility for significant mistakes, errors in judgement, miscalculations, or clumsy ineptitude -- nope, all the things that went wrong in April 2020 when a crazy nut spent hours driving around killing people and burning houses and 22 people died has all just been blamed on fog of war, acts of god, not knowing what was happening, it was dark, or somebody else's fault. 
So today, it was the RCMP Commissioner's turn to be blamed, for the awful communications after the event. Lucki apparently ordered the RCMP commanders on site to release the number of people killed and they futzed around and didn't do it so she did and then they were all insulted and so she went to Nova Scotia to reprimand command staff and she made people cry. 
Oh, the horror! 
Here is the report (PDF) where this chain of events is detailed - Public Communications between RCMP and Governments following the Mass Casualty.
This is what Evan Scrimshaw wrote tonight about the whole debacle: 
Here's where we have to read the tea leaves – what was said in the meeting between Lucki and Campbell is unknown, except that Campbell said that he made the decision to disobey her direct order on operation grounds, and that Lucki was so harsh some people cried. On the latter part, boo hoo. Who fucking cares if your boss was mean to you after a monumental fuckup. Cry more. On the former part, also fuck off, because I didn’t think that police officers got to disobey direct orders because they feel like it. Under no reasonable org chart does the fucking Commissioner not trump whatever the fuck his job title was, and he disobeyed a direct order. Yeah, you get yelled at for that.
Other commenters are not impressed with the sudden burst of political tut-tutting after politics reared its ugly head. Oh, and by the way...

Jan 6 Committee:
 
Powerful testimony at the hearings today, from people whose lives have been ruined because they stood up for the US constitution and did the jobs they were sworn to do. 
This statement from Rusty Bowers was particularly moving:

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

National Indigenous Peoples Day

June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day - here are some tweets that I liked about this important day.

Here is Trudeau;s speech: "such strength, such resilience" Here is a link to the Indigenous Ally Toolkit So many things we could all learn better: Here's some progress too:

Today's News: Updates

A batch of updates tonight - here we go

Juneteenth:
Pride:
This observation from Peggy Atwood: Ukraine Russia War
Interesting summary from military analyst Mike Martin comparing the fighting in the Donbass with the Ukraine advances around Kherson, a much more significant battle. 
Here are some parts of this thread:
Also a great article in The Atlantic comparing Ukraine and Chechnya:
Update of the update - I just saw these tweets about Lithuania's partial blockade:

Monday, June 20, 2022

Today's News: About authoritarianism

Over the last several days, I have seen a number of tweets and comments about authoritarianism as people try to understand what happened with everything from Jan 6 Insurrection to the FluTruxKlan, and what's coming up. 
Here's a roundup - 

First, Lindsay Graham has said some remarkably stupid stuff over the years, but this one takes the cake: Moving on to our very own Canadian authoritarian wanna-be, I think Poilievre's war room has finally figured out what his message should be -- keep saying "freedom" over and over, whether it makes any sense or not:

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Today's News: Pride parade again

Today was Saskatoon Pride parade day - thousands lined our streets, in spite of the heat, for our first parade since 2019:

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Today's News: A tangled ball of string

The LA Times has a major article describing the gang of third-raters, rubes, grifters and gullibles who were trying to overturn Biden's election. 
First, it's all just one big tangled ball of string -- the same bunch of fellow travellers keep turning up through all sorts of Trump Administration scandals. For example: 
...Some of the key players in the group were already working together in New York City before the election to crack the laptop of Hunter Biden, son of the Democratic nominee, said former Overstock.com Chief Executive Patrick Byrne, who was a major funder of the effort ...[and] was in an intimate relationship with Russian agent Maria Butina, who was convicted in the U.S. in connection with Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. 
Yes, there's Russia again -- if you look into anything connected to the Trump administration, Russia always seems to show up, like a cat sneaking in through any opened door.
Second, they actually did have a strategy to try to overturn Biden's election -- to prove the voting machines of key counties were corrupt, and to convince state lawmakers the election results were so tainted that they needed to reject state results: 
...they planned weeks of lawsuits, attempts to access voting machines and ways to persuade lawmakers to reject key state election results, driven by a frantic mission whose goal was to keep then-President Trump in office after an election he lost. .
..Some said they believed Trump’s months of claims that he could only lose if the election was stolen, others cared less about politics and were already convinced that fraud tainted all American elections.
Ultimately, they produced a report that supposedly wrapped it all up, with the goal of convincing Republicans in Congress on Jan 6 to either return the election results to the states, or to themselves accept alternate slates of Trump electors.  
The final Hail Mary was to get the presumably Trump-supporting Supreme Court to end the Jan 6 certification - a plan that did not succeed when Nancy Pelosi carried on immediately after the riot, and the Republican senators were unable to delay the vote. 
Also, and I believe this was key, Antifa DIDN'T SHOW UP so there were no bloody clashes in the streets which would have justified Trump declaring martial law and shutting down the certification. The goal on that day was to delay the certification and throw everything into chaos:

Friday, June 17, 2022

Today's News: Remember remember....

It doesn't quite scan like "Remember remember the 5th of November", but remembering Jan 6 2021 is now a cottage industry in the United States and the Jan 6 Committee hearings are getting more fascinating with every passing day. 
Today we found out how Trump kept himself surrounded by third-raters who would promote his fantasy that the election had been stolen. And who still promote it
But Vice President Mike Pence knew in December that Biden had won the election and he also knew that the Vice President did not have the authority to reject or change the American election results after states reported them. (Why he didn't announce this in December is a question asked by MSNBC tonight too.) 
We also found out that during the Jan 6 insurrection, Pence and his family and staff were within 40 feet of the protestors who wanted to "hang Mike Pence". Luttig was the conservative judge that W thought about nominating to the Supreme Court but then he picked Alito instead. What a loss that was to America! So then Tom Nichols decided to start a meme: And there are now hundreds of tweets in the series.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Today's News: Some comments on the passing scene

Just a bunch of observations today on the passing scene.

First up, interest rates. And I do mean up.
Now, perhaps there is a problem with the conventional wisdom that raising interest rates will stop "inflation". The problem is - maybe it won't.
As Atrios (economist Duncan Black) describes it: 
A problem at the moment is the conflation of "increases in the Consumer Price Index" with "inflation" and they aren't precisely the same thing. At least, the theoretical concept of "inflation" which economists think about when they are lost in their models is not identical to this, especially over the not-very-long-term.
Supply chains bottlenecks, energy price spikes, and various monopoly power pricing are not "inflation" as imagined by economists. If it isn't essentially "too much money sloshing around" then "less money sloshing around" is not the solution. 
Inflation as currently experienced by consumers is not the "inflation" that is solved by jacking up interest rates and driving people out of work, and in fact this solution is likely to exacerbate the problem in addition to creating additional economic misery. 
 Good job, everyone, as usual. Now you can move on to the next disastrous idea while blaming (spins wheel) trans people. 
Second, conspiracy theories. 
I saw some tweets yesterday from Abacus so I looked up the data. It isn't pretty. 
They recently published three articles about "Trust & Facts: What Canadians Believe"
- almost half of those interviewed think "much of the information we receive from news organizations is false.”  And they also don't believe what the government tells them either.
a significant percentage believe in political, economic or racist conspiracy theories. 
- and a smaller percentage believe in Covid conspiracy theories. 
Here are some charts: 





Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Today's News: "You can't handle the truth!"

Here's one thing I noticed today -- because Trudeau has Covid and has to appear on video in the Commons, he doesn't get interrupted by hecklers as much, and he can actually make his points without interruption. So, silver lining...
Here is Dale Smith's summary of today's Question Period back-and-forth. Canadians know the truth of the convoy insurrection, we know who had our backs and who did not, and we still support the Emergencies act
While in isolation for his COVID diagnosis, the prime minister pledged to appear virtually, and all of the other leaders were present for a change. Candice Bergen led off, script in front of her, and she went on a paean about telling the truth—which is rich coming from her—and demanded that the prime minister have Marco Mendicino step away from his job. Justin Trudeau, by video, read a list of people who stated at the time of the occupation that their powers had been exhausted, which is why they invoked the Emergencies Act. Bergen outright demanded Mendicino’s resignation, and Trudeau reminded her police should not be able to grant themselves emergency powers, which is why government invoked the Act to give them powers that he listed. Bergen again demanded Mendicino resign, and Trudeau said that this was about the Conservatives trying to hope people forgot their support for the occupation. 
Here's some clips:

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Funny stuff

Just a random collection of funny stuff tonight 

So who knew there could be TWO ranked bulldogs in North American Diving Dogs? But here is one of them, Chewy! When you open the tweet, make sure you also click on the Alt text to read it too. 

 And speaking of "diving"... Twitter is weird sometimes! Here is some excellent news!

Monday, June 13, 2022

Today's News: Update on the Russia Ukraine War

I haven't seen as much about the Russia Ukraine War lately. So tonight I wanted to highlight 
some recent tweets and articles to summarize the situation:
One interesting tweet I saw today was this estimation of just how large this war is Based on the numbers in this tweet, the Russia Ukraine War "active hostilities" line is the equivalent of the distance from Winnipeg to Calgary.  Its "frontline" in total would stretch from Winnipeg to Vancouver. 
That is a huge distance for military forces to try to cover, even if each army has more than a hundred thousand troops. 
Here is a lengthy thread from Mike Martin which summarizes the important conflicts in the war now: